So you’re thinking about adding a screened-in porch to your home? Fantastic idea! A screened porch is the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors without dealing with bugs, rain, or nosy neighbors.
When it comes to screened porches, you have two options for your screens – fixed or motorized retractable. Both have their pros and cons when it comes to cost. In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know to decide which type of screened porch is the best fit for your home and budget.
First, What Exactly is a Screened Porch?
Simply put, a screened-in porch is a porch that is enclosed with screening on all sides. Screened porches are typically built onto an existing porch or patio.
The screens allow air to flow through while keeping out mosquitoes, flies, and other pests. This lets you enjoy your outdoor space in total comfort!
Screened porches are also great for increasing privacy from neighbors. You can chat and relax without feeling like you’re “on display.”
Biggest Benefit of a Screened Porch: Protection from the Elements
One of the best things about a screened porch is being able to enjoy the outdoors regardless of the weather or temperature. Here are some of the key benefits:
- Stay outside on hot, sunny days without getting overheated. The roof provides shade and the screens allow breezes to flow through.
- Stay dry on rainy days. The roof keeps water out, while the screens allow you to keep windows and doors open to enjoy the sound of falling rain.
- Enjoy the outdoors bug-free. Pesky mosquitos and flies can’t get to you through the screens.
- Entertain without fear of party crashers. The screens keep out uninvited pests and curious neighbors.
- Protect indoor furnishings from sun damage. You can comfortably use nice indoor furniture outdoors.
With all these benefits, it’s easy to see why screened porches are so popular!
The Main Decision: Fixed vs. Retractable Motorized Screens
The first big decision you’ll make is whether to use fixed screens or retractable motorized screens. What’s the difference?
Fixed screens are permanently installed. They can’t be easily opened or closed.
Retractable screens can be opened or closed with the push of a button. The screen retracts into a cassette when not in use.
Retractable screens provide more flexibility, but they are also more expensive. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each:
Pros of Fixed Screens:
- Lower cost – Fixed screens are at least 4 times cheaper than motorized screens. You can install a quality fixed system for $2000 to $3000. The same space with motorized screens will cost $8000 or more.
- Easier to install – Fixed screens require less structural support and can attach directly to your existing porch.
- Last longer – With no motors to repair, fixed screens tend to outlast retractable screens.
Cons of Fixed Screens:
- Less convenience – Fixed screens can’t be opened or closed easily. Once they’re up for the season, they stay up.
- Can look cluttered – Lots of framing is required to attach fixed screens, which some find unsightly.
- Need another entrance – You’ll need a screened door to enter your porch without letting in bugs.
Now let’s look at the pros and cons of motorized retractable screens:
Pros of Retractable Screens:
- Total flexibility – With the push of a button, you can open or close your screens anytime.
- Disappear when not needed – The screens retract into cassettes, giving you an unobstructed view.
- Large clear openings – Retractable screens can cover wider spans, eliminating the need for columns and framing.
Cons of Retractable Screens:
- More expensive – Retractable screens cost $6,000 to $10,000 more than fixed screens. Significant upfront investment required.
- Require professional installation – The tracks, motors and cassettes require expertise to install correctly.
- More maintenance – The motor mechanisms will need occasional repair and maintenance.
As you can see, the choice between fixed and retractable really depends on your budget and needs. If you value flexibility and want screens that disappear when not needed, motorized retractable screens are worth the investment. If cost is a bigger factor, fixed screens provide an affordable permanent bug barrier.
Now that you know the key differences in types of screens, let’s look at the costs in more detail.
Factors That Determine Screened Porch Cost
The biggest determinants of overall cost for a screened porch are:
- Size of the porch
- Type of screening
- Whether you’re building a new porch or screening in an existing one
- Additional accessories and enhancements
Larger porches will obviously cost more than smaller ones. Fancy options like ceiling fans and lighting increases costs too.
But the number one factor is whether you’re building a porch from scratch vs. just adding screens around an existing foundation. Let’s look at both scenarios:
Cost to Build a New Screened Porch
If you’re starting entirely from scratch, building a new screened porch averages between $25,000 and $45,000.
The cost per square foot averages $32.50 to $90.50 for a completely new build.
That covers the full construction – the roof, flooring, electrical, screens, etc. Everything required to build a porch on a new foundation.
Here are cost estimates based on size for a brand new custom screened porch:
- 12×12 porch = $4,700 to $13,000
- 14×16 porch = $7,300 to $20,300
- 20×20 porch = $13,000 to $36,200
As you can see, size is definitely a major cost factor when building a new porch.
Cost to Add Screens to an Existing Porch
If you already have a patio or porch in place, adding screens is much cheaper. You can have permanent screens installed around an existing foundation for $3,200 to $5,800.
The cost per square foot drops significantly – from $90 per square foot for new construction down to just $11.50 per square foot to add screens to an existing space.
If your porch structure and roof is already built, you save a ton by just adding screens!
Additional Cost Factors to Consider
While size and existing foundation vs. new build are the two biggest cost factors, you also need to account for:
You have lots of options when it comes to the actual screening material. The most common choices are:
- Fiberglass – durable and energy efficient ($3.15-$3.90 per sq.ft)
- Aluminum – withstands wind but can rust over time ($2.60-$3.80 per sq.ft)
- Polyester – affordable but prone to tears ($0.70-$1.20 per sq.ft)
Installing a screened porch takes specialized skills like carpentry, welding, and finishing work.
Professional installation averages $25 to $35 per hour. DIY projects can save on labor but may require specialty tools and skills.
Your porch roof can be made from materials like:
- Asphalt shingles – ($9.75-$17.75 per sq.ft)
- Metal roofing – ($2-$4 per sq.ft)
- Glass panels – ($22-$75 per sq.ft)
Fancier roofing materials like copper or glass raise costs.
Additional features and accessories can significantly increase your total porch costs:
- Ceiling fans – $200 per fan
- Recessed lighting – $75 per light
- Electrical wiring – $2-$4 per linear foot
- Speakers – $300+ for audio system
- Heaters – $500+ per unit
For safety, most screened porches need decorative railings which cost:
- Wood railings – $9-$21 per linear foot
- Wrought iron railings – $70-$80 per linear foot
- Aluminum railings – $57-$102 per linear foot
Permits and Fees
Most areas require building permits and zoning approval to construct a new screened porch. These fees typically add $800 to $1,000 in costs.
Upkeep costs are higher for motorized retractable screens that require motor maintenance. Replacing torn screens or damaged framing may be needed over time as well.
As you can see, all the extras can really add up! It pays to make your design as simple as possible if budget is a big concern.
Making the Choice: DIY vs Hiring a Professional
For skilled DIYers, it may be tempting to tackle building your own screened porch to save on labor costs.
However, for such a big project, hiring a professional is highly recommended. Here are some of the benefits:
- Get it done FAST – A pro can complete in a few days what would take you weeks of nights and weekends.
- Permitting – Contractors are familiar with local zoning laws and permitting.
- Materials – Pros have bulk buying power to get wholesale deals on supplies.
- Avoid rookie mistakes – Hiring a pro prevents expensive construction errors and re-work.
If you do want to DIY, you can purchase pre-fab screen porch kits starting at around $1,100. These include all the framing, screens, and accessories but you provide the installation labor.
YouTube tutorials can be helpful but use caution – every house is different, and screened porches require weight-bearing foundations.
Getting free estimates from local deck and porch contractors is recommended before deciding on DIY vs. pro-build.
Making the Best Choice for YOUR Screened Porch
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into the cost of a screened porch!
The major factors include:
- Motorized vs fixed screens
- Starting from scratch vs screening an existing porch
- Overall size
- Fancy extras like ceiling fans and speakers
Carefully weigh whether flexibility and convenience justify the higher price of retractable motorized screens.
And remember – investing in professional installation helps ensure your porch is constructed safely and designed to last.
A screened porch adds significant value and enjoyment to any home. With good planning, it can be a centerpiece for entertainment, relaxation, and connection with nature for years to come.
Here’s to many great seasons enjoying your dream screened porch oasis!